Visiting former Head of School Les Larsen on Guemes Island

This July, I took the ferry to Guemes Island to spend some time with former Head of School Les Larsen, who played a major role in shaping The Bush School. Les has a substantial legacy at Bush—he started the tradition of Convocation, saw Bush through the transition from all girls to co-ed, and launched the Action Module Program (AMP). Along with my daughter and her friend, we explored the island with the Larsens. I even got the chance to visit Mary “Sis” Pease’s place in Seaway Hollow.

Convocation Speech 2017

Opening of School, September 7, 2016

It is my pleasure to welcome our staff, teachers, parents, guardians, friends, and students—especially the Class of 2017—to The Bush School’s 2016 convocation.

I am standing in front of you today at the beginning of my 19th year as an educator in independent schools. I find myself here, after almost two decades in education, because school has always felt like home to me. It is the place where I feel most comfortable, most at ease, in the company of scholars, counselors, grammarians, historians, storytellers, fact finders, and and truth seekers. The men and women who plan meticulously to make a lesson thorough, resonant, compelling, and engaging were and still are my heroes.

I was a curious child, a dutiful student. I loved school and I wanted nothing more than to discover something new, to meet and exceed my teachers’ expectations, and to hopefully become one of them. I aspired to do what they did, to cultivate students’ natural talents and share my love of the written word, analysis, reason, and TRUTH with a new generation of aspiring scholars. Continue reading “Convocation Speech 2017”

Making A Difference in the 2015-2016 School Year

It is clear from the bustle around campus and the change of weather, that fall is officially here. As I begin my second year at The Bush School, I look back on the whirlwind that was the 2014-15 school year fondly. My work with the Board of Trustees this summer and fall has been focused on maintaining and enhancing the school’s remarkable programs and reputation as a leader in progressive education, analyzing the comments and recommendations from the parent and student survey about ways in which we can improve as a school, and communicating a clear and compelling vision for the school’s future.

Continue reading “Making A Difference in the 2015-2016 School Year”

Halloween Spirit

Halloween SpiritI have always approached Halloween with a hint of skepticism and apathy. As a child, I was very clear about the reason—I DON’T LIKE BEING SCARED. Sure, like most kids, I enjoyed gorging myself on Pixy Stix, Big League Chew, Nerds, Sugar Babies, Dum Dums, Sweeties, and Zagnut bars after my parents inspected them.

As I grew older, and candy became less of an attraction, my friends turned to silly pranks and ghoulish stunts meant to frighten our peers and wreak havoc on our neighborhood.  Again, this seemed to me to be destructive and SCARY, albeit for different reasons. Now, Halloween seems to give some adults license to publicly engage in silly or even debauched behavior. This can be a whole different kind of frightening.

The Halloween practice of trick or treating derives from the medieval tradition of “souling,” in which children would sing and say prayers for the dead in return for cakes. It is interesting how customs and practices morph (especially in culturally heterogeneous societies like ours) and take on new rituals and interpretations.

We are often uncomfortable with acknowledging death; it brings up memories of painful losses and reminds us of our own mortality. For many cultures, including the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos, remembering loved ones publicly and being confronted with the inevitability of death also offers the opportunity to be grateful.

Like you, I read about the tragic deaths of two Marysville high school students at the hands of a fourteen year-old boy with feelings of dismay, anger, and helplessness. Each time I hear about a school shooting, I am reminded how precious and fleeting life is. Perhaps this Halloween we can spend a few minutes with our own version of “souling,” giving our heartfelt thoughts (if not prayers and song) for those who lost their lives last Friday.

Although I have never been much of a fan of Halloween, this year as I roam the streets amidst the costumed children I will be reminded of those innocent victims and generous souls who are no longer among us, and I will hug my children in gratitude before they head off to collect their treats.

Percy